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Are We There Yet?

Brian Buck
© Scotwork NA

It’s 3AM and you’re lying awake in anticipation that today might be the day that your deal will close. The only problem is you’ve had this sleepless night before. This deal was suppose to close on numerous occasions but it seems to keep dragging on or getting postponed. The other party is either busy, or new priorities pop up, or they’re out of the office or something. So what do you do when it seems like your negotiation is dragging on and other party is dragging their feet?

Time is relative. What seems to be moving fast for one person may not be moving fast at all for another. As an example, I’ve been involved with a number of start-ups where we move lightning fast. No over-inflated bureaucratic processes to follow - the organizations are flat and flexible. No entire days of back-to-back-to-back meeting sucking up our time - we don’t have time for it. When we deal with much larger organizations we are reminded of how much slower they move and it’s frustrating. However, it actually has nothing to do with time and everything to do with priorities.

At a start-up we value flexibility and movement because we have to move quickly to secure our position in the marketplace. At larger organizations we value stability and predictability because stakeholders and shareholders rely on our steadiness. How we decide to spend our time is based on our needs and what we value. That’s no different for a negotiation.

In some cases, people do drag their feet in a negotiation. Some do it to buy time while waiting on other bids or they aren’t sure what to do next or a variety of other reasons. Regardless of the reason why people are taking their time it comes down to priorities. In order for you to affect time you must have an effect on priorities. This can done by using “carrots” (incentives) or sticks (“sanctions”) to make the other party prioritize their time to address the negotiation at hand.

There are plenty of carrots and sticks to find to help the other party move faster. The best ones are grounded in key priorities of the other party. For instance, if price is not an issue for the other party, offering an incentive or sanction with regards to price will not change their behavior. However, if a client commitment is important to them than anything that impacts that client commitment will get them to move faster. By knowing what is important to the other party your incentives or sanctions will be much more effective.

Next time things are taking too long, look for your carrots and sticks and help the other party move a little faster.

Let’s Speed It Up!

If your negotiation is going too slow, you may need a carrot or stick to move it along. We can help you find the right ones. In addition, Scotwork can coach you through the negotiation to ensure no future stalls.

We help organizations of all sizes and in a variety of sectors win their most critical negotiations. Let us help you speed up your success at the negotiation table. Talk to one of our experts today.


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